BlackRock is the latest asset manager to call for greater diversity on boards.
Mar 14, 2017 7:00 AM EDT
This is part of a series of stories that comprise TheStreet’s Blue Chip Studio, which will illuminate issues related to corporate board performance, activism, dealmakers and personalities revealed by analysis of data generated by BoardEx, a business unit of TheStreet.
BlackRock (BLK), the world’s largest asset manager, said it will be putting pressure on companies to address boardroom diversity as part of a series of initiatives for 2017-2018 that the company’s 30-member Investment Stewardship team will discuss with portfolio companies.
The New York-based firm, with $5.1 trillion under management, said board composition, effectiveness, and accountability remain a top priority, and that it plans to engage companies in a constructive manner.
“More specifically, over the coming year, we will engage companies to better understand their progress on improving gender balance in the boardroom,” the firm said on its website on Monday. “Diverse boards, including but not limited to diversity of expertise, experience, age, race and gender, make better decisions.”
Michelle Edkins, who will oversee the group that’s heading the effort for BlackRock, did not immediately return requests for comment.
BlackRock’s largest holdings, outside its own ETFs, are Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Exxon Mobil (XOM), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM). Apple’s eight-member board includes two women, while Microsoft has three women on its 11-seat board. Exxon Mobil’s 13-member board has four female directors, including its most recent addition, female climate scientist Dr. Susan Avery. Two women are on Johnson & Johnson’s 10-member board. JPMorgan Chase has two women directors on its 12-person board.